Iran – As world powers have been working to curb Iran’s nuclear program, the Islamic Republic has been bolstering its ambitions in cyberspace, positioning itself as a potential technological leader in a turbulent and strategically crucial region.
Iran in recent years has inaugurated a new, high-capacity data link to Europe, introduced 3G and 4G cellular service to millions of customers and become a major buyer in a bustling new marketplace for IP addresses – the fundamental building blocks of the online world.
Western experts watching these development see little evidence that these steps are intended to bolster Iran’s already formidable cyberwar capabilities. Instead they see a nation making investments in civilian technology that could help Iran build a more modern, open economy, especially if a tentative nuclear deal struck last week yields a permanent accord and an easing of international sanctions.
Despite deep-seated wariness of Iran, some observers see these technological developments as a sign – along with the nuclear talks themselves – that President Hassan Rouhani is eager to normalize Iran’s relations with the outside world after years of combative isolation.